Dark Passages: They All Disappear
My newest column at the Los Angeles Times has a missing persons themes running throughout, looking at new and recent books by Stewart O’Nan, Jennifer McMahon and Johan Theorin. Here’s how it opens:
children are reported missing every single day. The vast majority of
them are found, sometimes quickly, but for the families and loved ones
of those who are not, a canvas of unanswered questions opens up ready
to be painted with a palette of psychological complexity.
No wonder that the plight of a disappeared youngster appeals to writers
crisscrossing into and out of genre: When a crime novel focuses on
murder, the expectation is that this chaotic event will be put right
with the identity of the culprit. But disappearance suggests a more
elastic narrative that takes in a wide spectrum of emotions of those
In other words, a missing-person tale carries the weight of a dissonant
chord perpetually unresolved but, as some of the most indelible novels
of the last few years demonstrate, also presents a wide swath of color
and tone rife for exploration from an array of vantage points.
<p> Read on for the rest. </p>